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United Nations urges world to stop escalating Afghanistan crisis

United Nations urges world to stop escalating Afghanistan crisis

In a pledging conference on Thursday, the United Nations called on the world to aid the war-torn country by pledging $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid.

Since the Taliban took over power in Afghanistan on August 15, when US forces withdrew hastily, the country's humanitarian crisis has worsened rapidly.

Despite promising a softer regime than their previous harsh one, from 1996 to 2001, the hardline Islamists closed down girls' schools a week ago, to widespread international outrage.

Even as the UN, Britain, Germany and Qatar, which are co-hosting the virtual pledge event, condemned the closures, they insisted that the international community should not abandon the Afghan people, 60 percent of whom need assistance to survive.

Speaking from Kabul, UN humanitarian coordinator Martin Griffiths told reporters that Ukraine was crucial, but Afghanistan commanded our loyalty and commitment.

Don't let the worst happen

UN officials want triple the amount they requested in 2021, but their biggest single-country appeal has been unable to secure 13 percent of the money they need.

There are more than 24 million Afghans who need humanitarian assistance to survive due to the ongoing economic crisis.

"We need to avert the worst in Afghanistan and that's why we're calling on donors to step up and be generous," said Griffiths.

In his words, basic services like health and education were "on their knees," while millions were unemployed and people were taking on debt in order to survive, with 80 percent of household expenditures going to food.

Meanwhile, the country is experiencing its worst drought in decades, he said. Earlier this year, the Taliban shut down secondary schools for girls just hours after allowing them to open for the first time since retaking power, sparking outrage.

"We very much look forward to those positions being rescinded in the near term, I hope it will not mean that the pledges we hear for this conference are limited by that" he said.

"Hope for the future"

According to Majed Al-Ansari, the spokesman for Qatar's foreign ministry, it is important that the Taliban hear from the Muslim world that "Islam does not confine women".

"While we understand the sensitivity behind pledging for Afghanistan in this climate, we stress also the importance of not isolating Afghanistan again. This legitimises radical positions," he spoke to reporters.

He added that "we should be very strong in condemnation and we should be very clear in talking to the Taliban about any infringement on human rights but also we should not abandon Afghanistan. We have abandoned Afghanistan once, and we know what the result was."

Pledging event starts at 1300 GMT with a speech by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and should conclude at about 1700 GMT. Britain has pledged $380 million in the upcoming financial year, with at least half of the funding directed at girls.

By coming together and protecting life and human rights in Afghanistan, Ansari said the conference was meant to give Afghans a future of hope. "Afghanistan could either be a lost cause or a beacon of hope," he said.

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TAGS:United Nations Afghanistan crisis 
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